Here we are: our fourth installment of “For the Record,” wherein we highlight some of the staff’s personal favorites from the Sub Pop catalog, wax hyperbolic on same, and then deeply discount the title(s) in question for 48 hours. And this time Carly Starr is making this feature her own by choosing not one, but two Constantines records. So perhaps this is our first “For the Record(s)”? Let’s get into it!
The Constantines are one of my favorite bands in the entire world.
Everything about Shine a Light and Constantines is perfect. How do I know? Because right now I’m listening to them (no, not at the same time) for the one billionth time and I still turned my speakers all the way up—which is what you do when you’re listening to a great fucking rock album. And that is what Shine a Light and Constantines are: amazing rock albums filled with sweet bass lines (yes, I sure did just say that!) and hand-claps all fronted by undeniable voices that you cannot resist singing along with.
I started to list my favorite songs but then I ended up with more than half of the album tracks. But really—“Arizona,” “Shine a Light,” “Young Offenders,” “Nighttime / Anytime (It’s Alright),” “Justice,” “Young Lions,” “Little Instruments,” “On to You”… SO MANYJAMS!
At the old (and what now seems really small) Sub Pop office we used to blare Shine a Light simultaneously on three stereos around 4 PM on Friday afternoons. Those were good days (who even has a stereo, besides me, at their desk anymore?).
If you ever get a chance to see this band play live you have to. No BS excuses. YOUMUSTSEETHISBANDPLAYLIVE. They might even throw you an instrument to play.
I’m not going to choose which album is my favorite so I’m picking both. I would suggest you do the same and just buy both. Play these albums really effing loud and don’t be afraid to let it out (not that).
Click here to buy Shine A Light.
And here for Constantines.
Sohrab Habibion is one of the singers and guitar players in the just ridiculously great band Obits (whose records are available on the Sub Pop label: surprise!). Obits just happen to have a new record, which was released yesterday, March 29th, 2011, entitled Moody, Standard and Poor . And, in addition to Sohrab being one of the smarter, more thoughtful people we’ve ever met (read this for some indication of what I’m talking about), the occasion of their new album’s release seems about as good an excuse as we need (note: we don’t really need any excuse, so that’s maybe setting the bar a little low…), to mark what we really hope will be the glorious or at least somewhat noticed return of our “For the Record” series. “For the Record”, for the record, is the thing we sometimes do on our website where we convince someone in a band on the label to write a bit about a record from the Sub Pop catalog, and we then attempt to use this as a method of maybe selling you guys some copies of the record in question at what we hope to be a very appealing discount-type price.
No doubt you get the picture already.
So, here’s Sohrab from Obits on The Grifters’ Ain’t My Lookout (fondly and not at all frequently referred to around here as Ain’t My Cookout)…
Band: The Grifters
Record: Ain’t My Lookout
When we told you the first time: February 13, 1996
The first time I heard the Grifters was in ‘92, I think, around the time their “Corolla Hoist” 7" came out. I don’t remember who played it for me, but it really resonated. The slight dissonance of the instrumental interplay with a vocal melody that finally came into focus after about a minute or so of darting around the snare drum and a loose-wristed, ascending guitar line. But it was the b-side to their Soda Pop 7", “She Blows Blasts Of Static”, that really hooked me. It seemed equally informed by classic rock riffs and weirdo, late-70’s art punk. Each time the song fell apart, it returned with even more fervor.
Not much later I got a chance to see the band play at the 15 Minutes Club, one of the less conventional venues in DC at the time. It was a lunchtime soul food kitchen for government employees by day with a bare bones PA for local and touring bands at night. Grifters took the stage pretty casually, fumbled lackadaisically into their set and then proceeded to decimate the two dozen or so people in the room. The songs I knew were only recognizable at points and, in general, it felt like all bets were off. Why wasn’t Stan, the drummer, playing on that part? Was that a phaser on Tripp’s bass guitar? The unspoken and uptight rules that my friends and I had all been following in our bands were left looking for parking spaces on 14th street. It was as if any instrument could start or stop or rudely interrupt the proceedings, but nothing felt gratuitous or indulgent.
Fast forward a few years. The band had released One Sock Missing and Crappin’ You Negative, both of which were terrific albums, filled with moody and memorable songs. “Junkie Blood” still gives me chills. And then “The Eureka” EP came out, which felt like a perfect summation of the band up to that point. They knew how to deconstruct familiar elements and put them back together in slightly askew and strangely beautiful ways. And Dave’s voice sounded like Rod Stewart or Mick Jagger if either had been fans of Wire or the Vibrators. As far as I was concerned, this was the best band in America.
In 1996 I knew a handful of folks who had cell phones and maybe an AOL account, but there were no RSS feeds to follow a band’s tour dates or blogs to blare a PR stream of upcoming releases. So when Ain’t My Lookout was released I only knew about it when I saw it at my local record store. And it was on Sub Pop, a label I respected for putting out Mudhoney’s “Touch Me I’m Sick” 7" and Love Battery’s “Between The Eyes” EP (also Journey To The Center Of Cat Butt, but I’ll save that for another time). I was excited to get the record home and dig into it.
Ain’t My Lookout is a fuller recording than anything the band had done before, but just as woozy and gloriously lopsided as I could’ve hoped for. Long, languorous melodies stretched out over spikes of ugly distortion, bent notes unveiling clearly picked guitar chords and occasional blips that sounded like someone bumped into a Hammond organ. And lyrics. Real lyrics. Words that actually sounded interesting and made me want to follow the character sketches, drunken confessions and angry admonitions and try to understand the inside jokes.
Fourteen years later, quite magically, it all sounds just as fresh. A sloppy marriage of Big Star and The Lurkers, as officiated by The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. In my collection they actually fall between Green On Red and the Groundhogs, which is perfect. It’s truly timeless rock’n’roll, so if you don’t have this record already, here’s your chance to get it on the cheap.
For the next 48 hours, you can go HERE to get Ain’t My Lookout at our FTR sale price of $6 CD/$4 Mp3.
Soharab’s own band, Obits, just recently released a fine record of their own, Moody, Standard and Poor and it is oh so conveniently located HERE for your consideration.
Obits are a 4-piece rock band from Brooklyn, NY who released their debut full-length album earlier this year. It’s called I Blame You and if it doesn’t wind up on your personal list of this year’s best albums, well, your list could use some fixin’. Scott Gursky is the band’s drummer and he’s also an amazing visual artist. He’s the one responsible for this and also this. Mr. Gursky is herewith also our second guest editor for an installment of our increasingly less unknown feature: “For the Record”! “For the Record,” of course, is our semi-regular web feature wherein we (or people who we convince to do so) rhapsodize on something from the (let’s be honest) checkered Sub Pop catalog and then, in a not even thinly veiled attempt to persuade you to take a chance and purchase the thing in question, deeply discount that album for a brief period of time.
And with that, we proudly present, Obits’ Scott Gursky on Pond…
When we told you the first time: February 1st, 1993
I first heard Pond around 1993 on MTV’s 120 minutes, a show I regularly relied on as a teenager to pick up hints of any “cool music” that would otherwise never find its way to my suburb. The video was for the song “Agatha”, and although the video wasn’t particularly interesting, the song definitely scared me. Guitarist Charlie Cambell drones on and on with one eerie chord, everything sparse and stripped down, with mantra-like vocal harmonies. To this day, I don’t have any idea what they are singing about, but I like to imagine this song is about a haunted house.
I bought their album Pond on cassette and wore it thin. I came to really appreciate (and even tried to emulate) Dave Triebwasser’s strong and steady drumming, and I was fascinated by bassist Chris Brady ‘s pop sensibilities butting up against the darker moods that Cambell and his guitar seemed to contribute. When at their best, during songs like “Gone” and “Spots”, they came across really murky and drone-y, a bit unhinged and heavy, but never without a strong hook to keep the foot tapping. It was distorted, heavy pop-rock music, lots of bands were doing it. But this trio had a certain way mixing the minor key with just enough melody and energy to keep it fun, and this separated them from the pack. When I was lucky enough to catch them live in Philadelphia, they had small amps, and Dave pounded a frankenstein of old drum kit orphans, very cool. There was something scrappy about this band, something that told you they didn’t have lots of money, they practiced in a damp basement, that they made weird, spooky power-pop because they really loved doing it and that was enough. The cynics will say Pond never made exceptional music, left no superstar legacy and that this record is (mostly) forgotten on the shelf, just another product of its time. Yet for me this time is a nostalgic one, one of cassettes and self-discovery, when against the odds you found special records, and special records found you.
You get Pond’s S/T release at our FTR sale price of $6 CD/$4 Mp3 here for the next 48 hours!
For the Record #9 comes to you courtesy of Fruit Bats’ front man, Eric Johnson.
Eric Johnson is a good dude and a great musician (currently splitting his time fronting his band Fruit Bats and playing in The Shins). He drinks fine wine and plays in fine wineries and has a great appreciation for film and, of course, music. He’s an easy one to talk to but if you ever wanna talk about The Baptist Generals in particular then he’s really your guy. Keep reading for Eric’s thoughts on No Silver/No Gold.
This album came out right around the same time as The Fruit Bats’ Sub Pop debut, so we ended up hanging with these guys a bunch at showcases and such. I think this record is brilliant, and to call it “underrated” would be an understatement.
The opening track, “Ay Distress”, is a sparse little heart breaker that ends abruptly with a cell phone going off in the studio, followed by pandemonium. Its a moment that caught me way off guard the first time I heard it and kind of blew my mind in the process. I can’t really think of any other album that starts you off this way; its a really cinematic moment, raw and weird. Then track two, “Alcohol” kicks in almost immediately, up-tempo and sounding more like a traditional album opener. This is the kind of sweet-ass, emotionally manipulative one-two punch that I’m a sucker for.
You’ve got really heavily strummed nylon-string guitars, a guitarron (a huge plucked guitar used in Mariachi bands) in lieu of a traditional bass, and Chris Flemmons’ insanely powerful lungs singing like his life depends on it. The real hit tune is “Going Back Song,” which is a pop beauty put through the freaky dark Tex-Mex filter of this record.
I’ll stop talking about it. You should just listen.
For the next 48 hours, you can go HERE to get No Silver/No Gold at our FTR sale price of $6 CD/$4 Mp3.
Eric’s band, Fruit Bats, recently released a fine record of their own, The Ruminant Band and it is conveniently located HERE for your listening pleasure. for you to check out!
Look to our semi-regular feature, For the Record, for reflections from staff and Sub Pop artists on some of our favorite records from the Sub Pop catalog; each featured title is deeply discounted for the 48 hours following the posted review.
For the Record is here again, (Our 8th installment! That’s 7 more than we wagered!), and this time out we have none other than Dean Spunt from No Age helping us out with a record recommendation. Dean’s a busy guy these days (with things like this, this and this to name a few) so we surely appreciate him takin’ some time out for FTR (thanks again, Dean!).
And just to re-cap, for those of you unfamiliar with For the Record, this is our semi-regular web feature wherein we (or a generous artist like Dean, Mat,Marty or Scott) reflect on one of our favorite records from the Sub Pop catalog and in turn, said record is dramatically discount for the following 48 hours.
Make Sense? Yes? Good. Now let’s hear about Wolf Eyes!
This record is fantastic! It’s not for the weak though, it starts and ends with a harsh noise ear assault courtesy of the the Wolf Eyes.
Parts remind me of Throbbing Gristle if they were pissed, other parts are like Man is the Bastard if they had no instruments, or Negative Approach with the guitars effected and the drums taken out of the mix and replaced with broken oscillators. Sound good? Then you should check it out – it may cause you to pick up a Behringer mixing board and some pedals and make a limited cassette.
For the next 48 hours, you can get Burned Mind at our FTR sale price of $6 CD/$4 Mp3 here!
Dean’s band, No Age, just released their fantastic EP, Losing Feeling, this month. We think you might enjoy it and heartily recommend you go HERE to check it out.
Please help us in welcoming our friend, Mat Brooke, lead singer from Seattle’s own Grand Archives, who has graciously agreed to guest edit our 7th installment of “For the Record”! “For the Record”, as you may recall, is our semi-regular web feature wherein we (or the kind people who we can convince to do so) reflect on a favorite record from the Sub Pop catalog and in turn we then drastically discount said record for the following 48 hours.
So now that you know how this all works, let’s get into it and see what Mat has to say about Chad VanGaalen’s Infiniheart!
Even though I’ve never lived in Canada, Chad VanGaalen’s Infiniheart has the comfort of home to me. The urgency of the jangly guitar intro in the opening track, “Clinically Dead”, starts the whole album with an immediate hook. From that point on the songs continue to ebb and flow with a perfect cinematic-like cohesion. The tales, narrated in a flawless wavering falsetto, create Infiniheart’s timeless sound. When Sub Pop re-released this album in 2005, the CD stayed in my player on repeat for days. So much, that now when re-visited, it’s almost like catching up on old times. “1000 Pound Eyelids” is the song that really sticks. The lyrics vaguely depict the terror of a car accident, with an innocent, almost calming charm. That is where Chad really prevails. His humble charm, blended with his style of hauntingly honest music. It just sounds like “home”. But don’t take my word for it, what the hell do I know? I’m not a record reviewer. Try buying it.
yours truly -mat
For the next 48 hours, you can get Infiniheart at our FTR sale price of $6 CD/$4 Mp3 here!
Mat’s band, Grand Archives, just released their second record, Keep in Mind Frankenstein this week. We think you should check that record out too. Here, we’ll help you: go HERE for more on Grand Archives.